Ernie Chiles and I went flying Wednesday. It’s amazing how his Cessna 150 keeps getting smaller and smaller every year. I don’t remember that much togetherness when we started going up together when I was in high school. He flies out of a grass strip airport down in Painton (if you have to ask, you wouldn’t know where it is even if I told you). His plane was born the year I graduated from Central.
IN CASE OF FIRE
While Ernie was prepping the plane – I think that means he counts the wings, checks to see if the oil is black enough and makes sure there is more gas than water in the fuel tanks – I wandered around looking at stuff in the hangar. Next to the door, there was a wooden hinged sign. It read, “IN CASE OF FIRE, RAISE THIS COVER.”
I knew I shouldn’t do it, but, finally, I just had to raise the cover. Yep, I should have left it alone.
After taking off, we made a pass by Cairo to see the Muddy Mississippi pushing the Ohio River back upstream, then flew over Thebes to see the courthouse on the hill and the railroad bridge. We did a quick scan of Cape’s riverfront, shot some fresh quarry photos in Fruitland and headed back to base.
Now, I’m not exactly sure how old Ernie is, but I’m pretty sure he’s now as old as the dirt he taught me about in Earth Science class at Central. I like to fly at 1,000 feet (or lower), the legal minimum over populated areas, but Ernie, being an old and conservative pilot, never likes to give away altitude without an argument, so we generally hang out at about 1,500 feet. He believes in the pilot’s adage that “There ain’t nothin’ as useless as altitude above you, runway behind you or fuel on the ground in the truck.”
On final, I asked Ernie to let me know when I should start screaming. “I don’t want to start too early and be all out of screams when I really need one, but I also don’t want to wait too long and perish before I get the last one out.”
Well, as it turned out, he greased it in so smoothly that I couldn’t tell when the wheels touched the grass. I could tell that even HE was pleased, although he says any landing you can walk away from is perfectly acceptable. That leaves me with a wonderfully crafted scream all bottled up unused.
So what’s with the White Castle?
Just as we were finishing up a couple of BBQ sandwiches in celebration of cheating death one more time, Mother called to ask if we had landed yet. She was stranded at the Dollar Tree and needed her battery jumped. If I was available, she wouldn’t call AAA.
On the way there, I passed what used to be the White Castle at the corner of William and Siemers Drive. When I opened up The Missourian on my laptop, I saw that Laura Simon had beaten me to the scene. Here is a story about the May 13, 2014, fire.